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Exclusief interview met Michael Pennington (Moff Jerjerrod)

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In Return of the Jedi maakten we kennis met een nieuwe Imperial: Moff Jerjerrod, die de ondankbare taak had te zorgen dat de tweede Death Star op tijd af was. Jerjerrod werd gespeeld door de Britse acteur Michael Pennington die toen al een enorme staat van dienst had als het om theaterwerk ging. Nu, 37 jaar na dato, mag hij zich een ware expert noemen als het om Shakespeare gaat aangezien hij naast het acteren in diens toneelstukken ook mede-oprichter is van de English Shakespeare Company. Afgelopen december had ik tijdens de EchoBaseCon het volgende interview met hem voor StarWarsInterviews.com en volgens traditie is het ook hier te lezen.


How did you get cast for Return of the Jedi?

Well, it’s a sort of half funny story, which is that because most of my work up to that point and subsequently has been in the theater and I was with the Royal Shakespeare Company from the mid 1970’s to 1981 or 1982. I had just had the great good fortune playing Hamlet for them and when you play a part of that kind there are people who say to you, oh, my goodness, what are you going to do next? What’s going to be the next great mountain you’re going to climb. What’s it going to be? The first thing I was offered was three days on Star Wars. This new Star Wars movie I didn’t know anything about, Return of the Jedi. It sounded like fun and easy. I only did three days on the film. So I’m really here at this convention under false pretenses because that’s all I did. On the other hand, I enjoy this, the fact that the films have lasted so well that people still have such enthusiasm. But whether you go to Cincinnati, Utrecht, Birmingham or Minneapolis, wherever you go, there is always the same. And I love to be part of that. To be part of a convention is great. So I got to just in the normal way. My agent said they wanted me for three days and I decided to do it. I didn’t audition. I didn’t meet George Lucas till the days that I did. I didn’t meet the director. So it’s sort of funny, haphazard way in which work comes to actors.

Did you see the first two movies before you got cast?

No. By that time, I knew a little bit or I asked around. I did get them in when I knew I was going to do my first convention about 18 months ago. I thought, I’m going to sit and watch the whole thing. Unfortunately, at that time, I had a little bit trouble with my eyes, I had some infections and things like that. It was physically very difficult to watch. I did my best to look at my scene and was amazed at how short it was because they had cut a lot. So I wasn’t really prepared. But I did understand the story.

Well, my next question was going to be if you found a way to play Jerjerrod in a way that would differentiate him from the other imperial officers?

At that stage all I had was what he actually did. I mean, I saw what he was doing, what his job was. You could press, if you would think in a very naturalistic, realistic way, maybe he’s a trained engineer or maybe he’s some kind of intellectual. What is it? I mean, he’s given this is very unpalatable job of building a new Death Star, and he’s immediately bullied by Darth Vader because he’s not making enough progress. Well, like with any character, you work out what the character might be like. You don’t use everything you think of because there’s no point wondering whether Moff Jerjerrod had a family or children that I could imagine that he did or didn’t. I could see this was a man who was under pressure, was being bullied by an authority, was going to stand up for himself. He was fundamentally probably quite a decent guy compared to many of the people.

And then, of course, we shot an alternative ending to his story by suggesting that he might have been strangled by Vader and only came across that years and years later as everybody else did. Well, it’s a pity that wasn’t it? In a way. But you get used to these things and you just go do the job and leave. The great Star Wars family is something I’ve never really been part of. I dipped in and out of it so quickly, I couldn’t really say anything authoritative about the entire sequence.

In deze deleted scene uit Return of the Jedi zien we Moff Jerjerrod aan den lijve ervaren wat een ‘Force choke’ van Darth Vader is.

Although it was just three days, can you remember any remarkable, unique, funny things that happened on the set?

I had the privilege of working with Dave Prowse, Darth Vader. It was a curious job for Dave who because after all, not an inch of his body was visible. He was locked away by Darth Vader’s shellac suit and in the end, his voice was going to be redoubled by the American actor James Earl Jones who had a particularly good timbre, voice for the part. I’ve often thought that was a bit tough for Dave, but I think he’d accumulated so much popularity is that because he has been in each and every film. He was quite self-confident. Our biggest difficulty was executing a shot, which is pretty typical. A tricky thing to do cinematically, though not impossible at all, is to walk together, maintain the same speed, the same speed of speech, the same stride so the camera could remain on the same angle tracking with you. That’s not so easy to do. We managed that. Unfortunately, at the end of the first take, well indeed in each of them, we were supposed to swing out of the camera’s view. We approached the camera and just as we were going off vision, it seems that I trod on Darth Vader’s cloak which was rather long and stretched behind him on the ground. And he froze because that’s you do when your cloak is stepped on and he himself said “cut, he mustn’t stand on my cloak”. We became quite good friends, in fact, and I’m glad of it. But it was it was all so brief, there’s no other anecdotes.

What’s the biggest difference between acting in Star Wars and a Shakespeare play?

One’s a bit louder than the other normally. And that’s the Shakespeare play. It’s the same process. It’s exactly the same process. But of course, this is affected by the fact that usually in the theater you’re working and you’ve got to be audible and visible to somebody who’s hundred meters away. In the cinema the camera comes and looks at you. I’ve always loved movies; I’ve not done as many as I would wish to have done. But I have become quite experienced in terms of playing big theaters physically, which is quite a thing. But basically it is the same activity. After all, you could probably do a thesis about why Star Wars is Shakespearean. Somebody has probably written an academic paper about it. The camera will find you whatever you do, all you’ve got to do is think the right thoughts. Screen acting is no different technically from stage acting.

You have an amazing resume when it comes to theater work. Yet most people will always remember you for your role in Star Wars. How do you feel about this?

It makes me laugh. It’s completely fine. I am doing an interesting thing. Beginning next year, which in a way answers your previous question because I’m doing a production of The Tempest. I’m going to do it in a particularly small theater in London in which nobody is going to be more than about 20 meters away from the stage. It’s more a room than a theatre which has a capacity of about 80 people. I’m really looking forward to that, because as you kind of say, I’ve done an awful lot of these big things with big parts. I’m now going to do something in a room that’s no bigger than the one we’re sitting in now. I’d love to see if I can combine my fifty-five years of experience with what I know to be necessary to be truthful in acting.

Of all the parts you have played, what is your personal favorite?

I feel it does go back to Shakespeare. Hamlet, of course. But then I was the right age to play, which I wouldn’t be now. I did that when I was in my mid-thirties in Stratford. I did it for two years. Not every night because you play in repertoire, but they’re like an opera season. You do maybe two or three performances a week and then you have two weeks off. So it was not as exhausting as it might been. I’ve recently, by which I mean in the last five or six years, done King Lear twice. Once in New York with an American company in 2014 and then in 2016 I did a big tour in the U.K. in a new play, a different production of King Lear. I’ve played that twice, which is very unusual. You normally only get one chance at those parts because there’s so many other people waiting to play them, but I got lucky with that. I was able to improve the performance the second time and I’m very happy with that.

Back to Star Wars, a franchise that is still relevant. Did you expect this back in 1983?

No, I’m not sure that many people do. I think George Lucas and I guess others did. But I thought nothing of it. I knew it vaguely as I said. It didn’t strike me as something that would necessarily last for a lifetime. For a lot of people, of course, it has. Look around at the convention today, several people who were not born when it came out. But it’s been brilliantly handled as a phenomenon in terms of the days of releases of all the films, the conventions, the whole. As a phenomenon it is extraordinary. It should get Oscars not only for the films, but for the production, the technique. How to handle an audience of a long period time so they don’t go away from you.

Have you kept up with the recent releases?

Truthfully, for a long time, I thought the focus had probably shifted away. Of course, there’s a difference between those first half dozen and the later ones. I sort of lost interest and that’s no reflection on them but probably reflection on me. But I will go and see the new one now, because since the last one came out, I’ve done six or eight of these conventions and I’ve enjoyed them all, fantastic to meet the fans. So to return a compliment I will go and look at the new film. So the next time I’m asked the question by someone like yourself, I’ll have a proper answer for you.

If you have to describe your Star Wars experience in one word or one sentence, what would it be?

At the time it was ordinary. I couldn’t say more than that. My experience in retrospect now is actually quite intense pride because I see that without knowing I’ve entered an enormous extended family. I meet old colleagues who I haven’t seen since that time. I’m very pleased to be part of it and to know that those three days seem to have borne fruit so widely, so universally, I suppose I can say that.


Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews

Geboren toen de opnames van A New Hope van start gingen. Voormalig assistent van Anthony Daniels. Auteur van de 'Star Wars Interviews' boekenreeks waarvoor hij 180+ cast en crewleden interviewde. Trots op zijn vermeldingen in de credits van de boeken The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, The Star Wars Archives en Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

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Interviews

Collector’s Edition: #2 Shane Garrad

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Shane Garrad

Collector’s Edition is een onderdeel op deze site waar we , in samenwerking met Echo Base, een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collectionIn dit tweede deel een kort vraaggesprek met Shane Garrad, ik heb Shane zijn collectie ontdekt door zijn Instagram en ik wist direct dat hij meer dan geschikt was voor deze rubriek.

Hi Shane, please introduce yourself.

A big hi from Australia to all Dutch Star Wars fans. My name’s Shane Garrad, 46 years old, married, with 1 daughter (named Leia Ahsoka) from a small country town called Port Pirie where I’m employed as a Night Duty/Fill Manager at a Large Supermarket Chain. I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan and 6 months ago decided to start an Instagram page devoted to sharing my collection, hoping to connect with like-minded fans across the world. So far it’s been a lot of fun.

How did you get into collecting Star Wars?

I guess collecting sort of become an extension of my childhood. I remember as a kid growing up with toys like Star Wars, He-Man, Transformers etc. in the 80’s, but my first love was always Star Wars from the 1st time I watched A New Hope. My collecting became rekindled with the relaunch of the Power of the Force 2 during the Mid 90’s. I remained pretty active collecting from there up until about the release of Attack of the Clones. Unfortunately I had to sell my collection then due to personal circumstances. I picked it up again at the time of Revenge of the Sith on a casual basis until about late 2014, where now it’s my hobby and passion.

You have a big Star Wars room, what is the focus of your collection?

I guess my main focus collecting has always been predominately about the characters that populate the Star Wars universe, so I mainly target 3.75 figures and also Black Series 6 inch. My goal is to one day own complete sets of every figure line released. It’s a patient focus that takes time, but the reward is great when you accomplish. I’m also passionate about original vintage Mint n cards as these were the toys I loved the most. I think currently I have 204 vintage MOC which includes a lot of variants. I guess over the last 5 years I’ve also just expanded to include anything I find that I think is cool for the collection. It’s definitely become an eclectic mix of everything.

What is your most valuable item?  

My most valuable item in the collection is a tough one… I would probably have to go with my collection of vintage Mint on card Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker figures. Like a lot of fans growing up Luke was and still is my idol. Watching Return of the Jedi and just being in awe of this powerful Jedi was just so impressionable to an 8 year old. So I have a weakness for the vintage carded version, currently owning 16 (lol). The other item that is priceless to me is an autographed photo taken with Mark Hamill at Star Wars Celebration Orlando in 2017.

Any white whales you are still searching for?

There are still a few “white whales” I’m keen to find and add to the collection hopefully in the next few years. The primary one is a vintage Mint on card Luke Farm boy which I know will take some saving and patience. That would complete my Luke collection for vintage. A few others are a nice complete loose vintage Yak face, Naboo Royal Starship & Duel on Mustafar playset (both mint in box) are on the wishlist.

Any items in your collection that were exclusive for Australia?

No, unfortunately I can’t say there are any specific to just us here Australians in the collection. It has been increasingly more difficult to gain any international exclusives either. It can be a frustrating time for collectors with all the US exclusives launched over the past few years. A lot of patience needed and fingers crossed they can be sourced.

Is there a big collectors scene in Australia?

Absolutely, there is a very healthy community of collectors here in Australia. Like many countries there are plenty of Facebook groups for all different facets of collecting, ranging from vintage figures, modern stuff, Black Series, etc. Many discussion groups, buy/swap pages and some good sites to just chat & share information.
Thank you so much for your time Shane! Please follow Shane Garrad on Instagram @leias_legacy_74
Heb je al een verzameling of wil je er een beginnen kijk dan eens op de Facebook site van Echo base.

Shane’s verzameling:

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Interviews

Collector’s Edition: #1 Mark Newbold

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Mark newbold collection 2

Collector’s Edition is een nieuw onderdeel op deze site waar we een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit eerste deel een kort vraaggesprek met Mark Newbold, oprichter van de site FanthaTracks.com en vaste schrijver voor Star Wars Insider en StarWars.com.

Hi Mark, please introduce yourself!

My name is Mark Newbold. I am the editor in chief of Fantha Tracks and I’ve been writing for StarWars.com, Starburst magazine (the longest running Sci-Fi magazine) and since 2006 for Star Wars Insider. I worked for De Agostini’s, build the Millennium Falcon, right now I am working on the Spanish version of the Fact Files series. I started a website in the ‘90s and there was not so much Star Wars going on at the time. So for a while it was a Star Trek site (don’t tell anybody) and then it became more of a general sci-fi site. And when it was clear in the late ‘90s that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.

When did you start collecting?

Pretty much since the beginning. I saw the movie a couple of months after the release, it came out in December 1977 in London so probably I saw it in the months after that, I was six at the time. My aunt bought me a Star Wars magazine and that was the very first piece of my collection. In the years after ’83 there was nothing Star Wars anymore, and we made fanfiction. And in the 90’s when it was clear that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.

What is the focus of your collection? 

The problem is that I have no main focus. I like to collect all little bits and pieces, like stickers and buttons. It took me a bit, but I’ve got all the vintage figures together. I don’t need to have them in mint condition or anything so that made it easier. And I’ve also got a lot of Star Wars books. And I have different formats of soundtracks and audio books, laserdisc and games.

The good thing is I am not a completionist, so I don’t care too much about that. I like to collect small things. I always say that I would not be bothered if everything in my collection room would fit in the palm of my hand. I like it to have it a bit chaotic and have full shelves. Friends can come over and look around and pick things ups and ask questions. The most fun about collecting is the stories behind every piece.

What is the most valuable piece in your collection?

The Art of Star Wars signed by Ralph McQuarrie at a book signing in the mid 90’s. Nobody was in the queue behind me, so I got 5 minutes to talk with him, I wish I could say we had some deep conversations but it was probably small talk about the weather. Later, a friend of mine took the book to a convention in Paris and got it signed by Joe Johnston and that was the only time it left my side. If something would happen or if I could only keep one thing, it would probably be this this book.

What item took you very long to get, but in the end, you found it.

I was searching for years for SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back on VHS  (a television documentary special hosted by actor Mark Hamill, about the special effects of Empire) and I knew a friend of mine had it and after some years he told me that he knew I wanted it. I made him an offer and in the end agreed on half of it and now I have it.

Any big wishes you have or white whales that you are after?

Luckily I  don’t have one now. Like I said I love to collect everything, and I am not a completionist. It’s a shame because I like to look for something and search for something. It was a lot of fun in the days before the internet. I loved going to conventions and comic stores searching for that special missing piece.

I know from your social media that you visited Steve Sansweet at Rancho Obi-Wan, what is your relationship with him?

I contacted him when I was writing a piece for Star Wars Insider about the connection of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. And he was at the time still working for Lucasfilm so he could help me with advice on that article. And couple of years later I interviewed him for Star Wars Insider, and we stayed in contact through social media. I met him again at a convention and we became friends. I was at Rancho Obi-Wan for the Guinness Book of Records party. And a couple of times after that. we stayed at Steve’s house and hade breakfast with him, he is a very friendly and very funny guy. If you have the chance to visit Rancho Obi Wan, you should definitely do so!

De verzameling van Mark Newbold

Volg Mark Newbold op FanthaTracks.com en op Twitter @Prefect_Timing

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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Nick Stanner (Stunt performer – The Mandalorian)

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Wat zou Star Wars zijn zonder goede stuntlui? Iemand moet de stormtrooper zijn die door een vlammenwerper in rook opgaat of van een rots af valt!

In The Mandalorian ging stuntman Nick Stanner meer dan 30 keer ‘dood’ en was hij als diverse personages te zien. Van Mandalorian tot stormtrooper! Onlangs interviewde ik hem voor StarWarsInterviews.com en zoals altijd is het ook hier te lezen!


How did your journey in movies start? How and why did you become a stuntman?

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska I was not around film at all. I grew up competing in Gymnastics for my parents’ club all the way through college. I was always flipping off something and in eighth grade I remember watching a movie, not sure which one, but I mentioned I wanted to “do that” as I pointed at the screen. My mom asked if I wanted to be an actor, and I said, “No, I wanna do the cool stuff!” Mom said Oh a stuntman?! I said yeah, and went back to being an eighth grader. Fast forward to after college, I was looking for a new apartment in Lincoln Nebraska where I went to collegians was telling my mom and she said, “I thought you said you wanted to go be a stuntman! When are you going to do that?” The second I heard my mom say that and I knew she supported me no matter where I was, I decided to leave. I headed to Florida to get involved with the live stunt shows at the theme parks like Indiana Jones at Disney, Sindbad at Universal and many others in the Orlando area. Once I got into some of those shows I started to meet people in the film industry.

How did you manage to get hired for The Mandalorian TV series?

One of my best friends that I met at the very first show I did when I moved to Florida was Ryan Watson, the Stunt and Fight Coordinator for The Mandalorian now. We have known each other since 1999. He is one of the best in the industry for fights and creative camera work.

Which characters did you play as a stuntman? The Mandalorian himself?

I played a mandalorian, but not THE Mandalorian. The Mandalorian stunt double is Lateef Crowder. He is amazing with movement. I played numerous characters. I died 32 times in the first eighth episodes, many as a stormtrooper. I did all the high falls so any time someone falls from a roof, that’s me. You can count at least four in the final battle in episode 1. 3 falls in one circle of the gun and one when IG-11 shoots me before they walk in the door. That’s a couple examples, but I am all over the place. I also was the green face guy with Carl Weathers and speeder bike trooper.

You just mentioned that you ‘died’ 32 times. What was your favorite death scene?

Each death was unique. My favorite is high falls, which is why I get to do them all, but being torched by mandos flame thrower as a stormtrooper.

Which of these characters was your favorite?

They are all fun to play, but there is nothing like being a jet pack mandalorian flying on wires. Kids dream come true!

Did you meet the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal? How was he to work with?

I met everyone and worked with the whole cast! It’s an amazing crew with no lack of talent and everyone is very down to earth. Being there every day, I had a chance to get to know everyone pretty well. Pedro is a jokester so we got along great. I’m a big comedy fan so I enjoyed Bill Burr.

Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?

There were a few funny moments on set. Lots of laughs all around really but when it was time to work playtime was over. Off the set there was plenty of laughs and good times. When you’re working 10-14-hour days it takes the whole crew to keep everyone in good moods and in the film biz there is no shortage of laughs.

What is your favorite anecdote regarding the production of The Mandalorian?

My fave laughs, not sure of anecdote, was when Bill burr would mess with the crew. He has such quick wit and had the entire crew laughing!

Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?

I was a so-so Star Wars fan. I liked the movies, mainly the first 3, and saw them pretty young. Being involved has brought me a little deeper into the world but I would not consider myself a diehard fan.

The question I have to ask every stuntman: what is the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever done?

Most dangerous stunt would be getting hit by car in Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon, or a 9-story high fall while being lit on fire, but it could be being hung underneath a helicopter by 75 feet of cable and flown over Los Angeles! Hard to pick just one, they are all super fun to me!


Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews

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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Jake Cannavale (Toro Calican)

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In aflevering 5 van The Mandalorian maakten we kennis met de jonge premiejager Toro Calican, gespeeld door Jake Cannavale. Speciaal voor zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com beantwoordde hij kort enkele vragen!


How did you get cast for The Mandalorian and were you a Star Wars fan?

They asked my agent if I would like to be in it. And I’m a massive fan and always will be.

How did the shooting of your scenes (most of them with Pedro Pascal) go?

They went very well. There was not a single difficult person to work with on that entire set. In my so far very short career that’s already not something I take lightly. Pedro Pascal was awesome! Mad love to Pedro.

You were directed by Dave Filoni, who many fans see as George Lucas’ heir. What is your opinion of him?

Other than the fact that he genuinely loves The Phantom Menace I have literally nothing bad to say about Dave. He’s the man. I loved working with him as an actor, and I have nothing but faith in him as a fan.

Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?

During me and Ming’s fight scene, Dave told her stunt double -whose name is also Ming- to actually kinda beat me up…it looked fantastic.

What is the best memory you have regarding The Mandalorian?

Probably knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can pull off a blue leather outfit.

Besides acting you’re also a musician in a band called Vixen Maw. How would you describe the music you make and who are your musical influences?

Vixen Maw is an experimental grindcore band. I would describe us as the musical equivalent of getting lobotomized by an unlicensed brain surgeon with Parkinson’s disease and medical fetishism. I don’t like to speak on behalf of my band members (or anyone, as a general rule) but I can say we are all pretty eclectic in terms of our musical tastes, with extreme music being the anchor, or epicenter, so to speak. So our influences are pretty all over the place. I will say that we are currently writing a new album from our own respective quarantine spots and some of the bands I’ve been listening to for inspiration include Chepang, Bandit, Narayama, Vulva Essers, Cloud Rat, Botch, Wormrot, Coke Bust, Gulch, and Bryan Adams.

You’re almost 25 years old. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what are your career goals?

In ten years I see myself hopefully having had enough memorable screen time to be sampled in some kids shitty grindcore band that his parents are sick of hearing rehearse from their garage. Also I would genuinely love to be writing for a living. Theater, film and animated television.


Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews

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